The defamation proceedings of Rouse Avenue Court (pertaining to the criminal defamation case filed by Zee Media’s editor Sudhir Chaudhary against Member of Parliament Mahua Moitra) which was pending before the Delhi High Court was refused a stay.
A plea was filed seeking the quashing of a summoning order passed by the trial court in a defamation case filed against her by Zee Media. The order had come in response to this plea which was moved by a Member of Parliament from Trinamool Congress. The Single Bench of Justice VibhuBakhru while observing that criminal reference concerning this matter is pending before a Division Bench of the court noted that it was unlikely that there will be the commencement of the recording of evidence by the trial court will be done before the said reference is taken up the High Court.
The present petition which is filed by Mahua Moitra seeks to quash the summoning order dated 25.09.2019. This order dated 25.09.2019 was passed by an Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate in a criminal defamation case filed against her by Zee Media. The order dated 10.01.2020 was also challenged by Ms. Moitra whereby the ACMM had framed notice against her by noting that a no power vests with the Magistrate to discharge an accused in a summons triable case. The court is also asked in the petition to exercise its powers under Article 227 of the Constitution to issue practice directions to the subordinate courts in relation to exercise powers under Section 251 of the Criminal Procedure Code to discharge an accused in a summons triable case instituted on a complaint. The Petitioner while claiming that the said order was passed by the Magistrate without even providing proper hearing to him, a set of following questions of law has been presented before the court:
- Whether a Magistrate seized a complaint case that contains offences that are in nature of ‘summons triable cases” has the power to discharge an Accused under Section 251 of the CrPC.
- Whether a magistrate is to act as a post box upon appearance by a person summoned and to simpliciter frame notice under Section 251 CrPC, irrespective of the reason placed by such person appearance?
- Whether a complainant in a defamation case can claim defamation in respect of utterances made while being hounded and abused continuously?
- Whether the right of self-defense exists in the case of defamation?
The petitioner argued that the court did not consider the fact that the statements made by the petitioner were in the form of a fair retort to the constant haranguing buy the reporters of Zee Media. The said controversy came to light after the speech given by Moitra on the floor of the Parliament. In this speech, she had highlighted early signs of fascism. Moitra’s parliamentary speech was plagiarized according to Sudhir Choudhary from Zee Media.